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Breast fails to beat MS

Thursday July 7th, 2011

Italian researchers have dashed hopes that women with multiple sclerosis may gain protection from the disease through breast-feeding.

The conclusion, reported in the journal Neurology, suggests women who take drugs for the disease may need to resume them after giving birth - making it unsafe to breast-feed.

Researcher Dr Emilio Portaccio, of the University of Florence, said: "Breastfeeding should not be encouraged by doctors to protect against MS relapses, especially among women with MS who have high disease activity and high risk of postpartum relapses.

"Since it is not considered safe for women to take MS drugs while breastfeeding, breastfeeding may not be feasible for these women who may need to resume treatment to avoid relapses soon after giving birth."

Dr Portaccio studied some 300 women with the disease who became pregnant.

About a third of the women breast-fed for at least two months. In the year after giving birth, about 37 per cent of the women experienced one relapse and 6.6 per cent suffered two or more relapses.

Dr Portaccio reports that breast-feeding made no difference to the rate of relapses. He found that women who had relapses after giving birth were most likely to have suffered one in the year beforehand.

* British researchers say that women smokers can prevent damage to their babies by giving up as soon as a pregnancy is confirmed.

The research at Southampton University was reported to the conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Stockholm, Sweden, yesterday.

The findings come from a study of pregnancies at the university medical centre over an eight year period.

Researcher Professor Nick Macklon said it was "hard evidence" it is worth women giving up smoking once they know they are pregnant - if they have not managed to do so before.

Neurology July 6 2011

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Europe | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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